Friday, March 31, 2017

Start Each Day With a Grateful Heart...

"Do you want to change your life?"
she asked.
   "Then start each day with a grateful heart!"

    Annora Grace, truly a gift from God, on her 11 month birthday! Isn't she precious!!

Each morning I have a simple ritual. I get up, make coffee, wrap myself in a quilt by the fire, and take out Jesus Calling,
my journal and prayer list. I take a deep breath, focus on God's love and then start my day by writing down three things that I am grateful  for.

They don't have to be big things, little things will be just as powerful.

Remembering to be grateful changes my life every day. 

As I look at my prayer list this morning, I see some names
that have been on there for a long time. I keep praying because
I love these dear folks so much and because God has asked me to pray!

I believe with all my heart that prayer is powerful and that God hears each prayer we pray. 

I look at that list and also see hearts drawn next to each prayer request that I can see God's clear answer to. It gives me such hope to know that God hears and answers.

Some answers are not what I had hoped for, but I cannot know God's greater plan. I trust in Him and know He loves us even if the answers are hard to understand.

Who is on my prayer list? Well, one special sweetie has been on there from even before she was born. Both Bert and I commit to pray for her every day of her life. Her name is Annora Grace.

When you see the pictures of sweet Annora Grace, my beloved Grandbaby, at the start of this post...well, you are seeing the answer to so, so many of our prayers and the prayers of many faithful friends and family.

When I see Annora's smiling face and hear her amazing little voice saying Mama or Boppa or just brings me to tears.

When I see these precious pictures of her on March 23rd, her 11 month birthday, I am filled with such gratitude and praise.
Thank you dear Lord that she is thriving!!

Kissy, as we love to call her, is so wonderful and amazing. She brings such love and life into our lives. She is a reminder every single day that God answers prayers. When I just think of her
each morning in my early prayer time, my heart warms and gratitude floods my soul.

I am not only grateful to God for Annora Grace and all of the prayers God answered, I am grateful beyond words to many of you who prayed for Annora.

Thank you, thank you from the bottom of my heart for your 
prayers then and now for this sweet baby girl.

Special love and thanks to my dear, forever friend, Jackie,
who is a prayer warrior extraordinaire. Thank you
so much for praying for Annora and her Mama, Amy.
You hold such a special place in my heart!

Other dear friends like Vicky and Peggy and Sharon, prayed
and prayed for Annora as well. Thank you for being
so faithful and caring toward this sweet baby girl!!

Knowing that you were and are praying for her gives us all so much HOPE. Your faithfulness and continued prayers mean the world to all of us who adore this sweet baby! 

Annora Grace will always be on my prayer list and I thank God
for answering our prayers for this darling little one.

God Bless!
Love, Linda

Friday, March 24, 2017

Oh Happy Day! ...

            "Oh, Happy Day, Oh, Happy Day.
          When Jesus washed, my Jesus washed...
          all my sins awayOh, Happy Day!"
                                                   -From the Movie, Sister Act

Want a day-brightener? Watch this amazing, short song! :)

One of the great luxuries of being a "senior citizen" is being able to reminisce about anything and everything. 

I am continually amazed at how just seeing a picture or object can bring up a wealth of old stories. What's more, the face of the story teller is often animated as if the remembered event happened yesterday.

For example, my dear hubby, Bert, was/is a Paratrooper. And yes, Paratrooper is spelled with a capital P in our home. Bert's time in the military, jumping out of airplanes in the line of duty, is a precious part of my dearly beloved's life story. 

We can be in a restaurant and Bert will see another senior gentleman wearing a paratrooper hat, and suddenly Bert is up from his seat, introducing himself to a comrade. 

While they don't technically know each other, they truly KNOW

each other in ways I can never understand. That paratrooper hat set it all off and before long they are engulfed in old stories about their time in the service. 

Reminiscing to their heart's content. :) :)

It always puts a smile on my face to see how animated they are...

almost as if it all took place yesterday.

While it wasn't a paratrooper hat that set off the sea of old memories for me that I am writing about in this post, I saw something that started me reminiscing. 

Something that brought back a flood of old memories.

There I was in Target on a simple errand. Side note: We feel quite luxurious to have a Target on the south hill, where we live in Spokane, as it saves us a trip to the valley or north side. 

On that day, early last week, I was walking down the aisles searching for an item...and there it was....

              A simple sign, made with reclaimed wood. 

              Three words in script...

I stood and just stared at it. And then, without consciously knowing it, I started to hum the song "Oh Happy Day" from Sister Act, a movie from way back. In the movie, there was a choir of African-American teenagers, from the inner-city, and their choir director, played by Whoopie Goldberg, was a nun.

The story was one that resonated with me on multiple levels.

The gist of the story is about a woman, in the witness protection program, who leaves her old life and has been given a new identity. As a nun she is working at an inner city Catholic school and ends up directing a choir of inner city teens. They go to a choir contest and the song they choose to sing guessed it...
                                 "Oh, Happy Day!"

Remembering the movie and song came from seeing the sign. This simple three word sign also brought back lots of other memories I had long forgotten about, or at least shelved for the present. There I was at Target, in a daze, reminiscing internally about a plethora of things.

Reminiscence #1: I taught for three years at an inner city middle school with young people who felt helpless and hopeless.

We put on plays/dramas/musicals so the students could find a way to positively express their emotions. 

Seeing the sign reminded me of the song which reminded me of the movie which reminded me of my work with inner city teens. Isn't it amazing how the brain God gave us can hold all of those puzzle pieces and then right there in Target put the puzzle piece together for us? Thank you, Lord!

Reminiscence #2: As a young girl I grew up in the Catholic Church. While I didn't go to a Catholic school, every Saturday 

I had classes, taught by nuns, on the Catholic religion. At that
time, most of the church services were in Latin, and I felt pretty disconnected from all of the rituals. However, I did have a huge fear of nuns and purgatory. Seeing the sign reminded me of the movie, (which had a nun as a central figure), which reminded me 
of my own experiences with nuns many years ago.

More puzzle pieces coming together. 

Years later, when I was in the 9th grade, I went to Malibu, a non-denominational Christian camp, and gave my heart to Jesus.

Suddenly I saw God differently. For me, at least, He became more personal and I asked Jesus to be my Savior. At Malibu, we sang the song "Oh Happy Day!" That all came back just with seeing the sign.

All of this...all of these memories came flooding in...right there in an aisle at Target. As I left the memories behind, and tried to come back to the moment at hand, I realized that I had stopped humming "Oh, Happy Day!"

Oh, my goodness... I had started to sing it out loud!

Just seeing that sign had made me so happy that I burst into song.

So, long story short, the sign came home with me. It was an unintended gift to my spirit, and today Bert and I hung it up in our hall. I can see it clearly from my favorite chaise as I sit and drink my coffee and have my prayer time.

This morning, over coffee, we reminisced some more about all of our "OH HAPPY DAY!"  memories and played the video clip from Sister Act. That clip found us smiling, singing along and even clapping. The words of the song speak to my faith and my spirit.

It is an "Oh Happy Day"to know that, like the song says, my Jesus washed, yes, my Jesus washed, all my sins away. It is an"Oh Happy Day" to know that He taught me how to live and how to pray. 

It seems like no coincidence that, on top of everything else that came from seeing this sign, that Bert and I go to Bethel AME, a primarily African-American church. 

I wouldn't be at all surprised if this Sunday our choir started to sing "Oh, Happy Day!" 

Sometimes God just works like that!

God Bless and please play that short video clip at the start of this blog post. I promise, it will make your day!!!

Hugs and loves and prayers!

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

A Great Reminder...

                            DO   MORE
                       OF  WHAT MAKES YOU
                                                           H A P P Y

It was a simple message on a t-shirt. Yet it was as if God sent those words straight to me.

Do more of what makes you happy! 

I smiled at the young woman wearing it at Starbucks. 
While she looked familiar, and at a quick glance I felt like I knew her, it seemed like perfect timing to say,
"I love the saying on your t-shirt. What a great reminder!"

All of a sudden the quizzical look on her face turned into a huge grin. "Linda? That's you isn't it?" She looked a bit startled at how loud her voice had been and her demeanor changed. All at once she was out of her chair, both arms open, ready to give me a bear hug.

As soon as I heard her voice, I recognized that somewhat southern twang and those deep blue eyes. She had the kind of grin that showed off most of her teeth. You just felt kind of giddy in her presence. She looked older than before, but then so did I.

Former students are everywhere! 

They are working at hospitals and are the ER nurse when Bert is brought in. They are teachers who love their students like I do. They are doctors and lawyers and social workers. They work at MacDonalds and they own small businesses.

This former student, Jennifer, had always been an artist. She and I used to comment on our shared love of design and I always loved to gaze at her photography portfolio.

That was then and this was now, so I was so happy to have a moment to catch up with her. Her bear hug felt like just the gift I needed that morning. Her sweet and kind words almost melted my heart.

* "I use what you taught me every day."
* "Whenever I correct my self talk and make it more positive, I can almost hear you whisper in my ear that I am somebody special."
* "I'm so honored that you were my teacher."

I tried not to have a big ugly cry in the middle of Starbucks. Somehow her kindness just sunk into a place in my heart that needed healing.

You see the end of the quarter is always bittersweet.
That very morning I had just said goodbye to 76 amazing students, and all the way to Starbucks I was trying to be brave.

I told myself that this always happens, this goodbye at the end of the quarter.

I told myself that while I would miss those students I might never see again, that they would always be a part of me and I would always be a part of them.

I told myself that after 50 years of being a teacher that it shouldn't hurt so much to let go of all of them.

But it does hurt. 

It is glorious and magical and God's work, and I pour my heart and soul into teaching every day.

The message on Jennifer's t-shirt told the story perfectly.

You see I get to do every day what truly makes me happy and teaching brings me such JOY!! I used to say, and it's still true...I was made to do this!

My grades will go in today after another long, long marathon grading session and then I'll get to rest and do more of what makes me happy in other areas of my life.

Yet for now...I will just take in Jennifer's words and thank God for the blessing of seeing her again.

God Bless!
Love, Linda

Sunday, March 12, 2017

The Greatest Kindness...

                                   One of my very favorite sayings is... 
                            "Sprinkle kindness like confetti."

When you are truly the recipient of an amazing act of kindness, it restores your hope and it enlarges your heart.

The pictures above are of two people who hold the keys to my heart. They are the kindest people I know, the most giving and the most unselfish. They are Mama and daughter...Amy and Jenna. They both love fully with their whole heart and they both love Jesus and live for Him.

When my beloved Bert had a TIA stroke a year and a half ago, 
his whole world changed. While we were so grateful to God that Bert was still here, Bert retired from being a counselor and felt it wasn't safe to drive. 

So he was at home a great deal, recovering his strength. During that time, Annora Grace was born and Amy and Jenna's beloved dog, Daisy, came to our house so the family could become adjusted to the new baby.

Sometimes new babies and doggies need to get to know each other in small doses, so the decision was made to have Daisy visit us...for a small while.

And then it happened...Daisy and Bert (affectionately called Boppa) became buddies. They took walks together, took naps together and Daisy became Bert's special companion.

Daisy brought a huge smile to Boppa's face, just as sweet pets often do. That sweet little pooch filled a hole that no one else could fill and Bert was so attached to her.

And then the time came for Daisy to go home and the unthinkable happened. 

Amy and Jenna decided that as much as they loved and adored Daisy, they loved Boppa more. So Daisy, all these months later, is still at our house. She is still Bert's buddy and every day she puts a smile on his face.

When I think about how truly unselfish that act of kindness is, giving your special puppy to someone else you love so he can be happy, well... it just brings me to tears.

I'm not surprised that Jenna has a heart of gold, after all her Mama does too. I know that God must smile when He sees acts of kindness like this and it warms my heart every day to see Bert with Daisy.

I couldn't love Amy and Jenna more!

God Bless!
Love, Linda

Wednesday, March 08, 2017

Words Are Powerful...

             You can do ALL things through
                Christ who strengthens you.
                                             Philippians 4:13

I won't lie or try to sugar-coat yesterday. It was just plain awful and scary. It seemed on every level that the things I thought I knew and understood, things I counted on...well, some of them just collapsed before my eyes. 

At every turn, at school and at home, there was an incredible sense of dis-ease. It felt almost like I couldn't quite get my footing, and I was praying non-stop.

So, as I always do, I read my Jesus Calling book and here's the gist of what it said...

"Let Me help you through this day. The challenges you face 
are far too great for you to handle alone. You are keenly aware of your helplessness in the scheme of events you face..."

I just chuckled to myself as I read this. 

Helpless...That's for sure! 
That just about nailed it!

As much as I tried to put a positive "spin" on what was going on, and it just kept compounding as the day progressed, I was left with two powerful phrases...

     * Put your trust in Him and

     * You can do ALL things through Christ who
        strengthens you.      

What I know for sure is that God is not helpless. He has a plan that I cannot know or understand. He is there in the midst of this hard time. He cared and grieved with me as the walls came tumbling down. He will not leave us in the midst of the mess, but help us to navigate through this.

I could not change the course of these events, but He could.

So this morning, when I woke up and had my prayer time, 
I asked Him to guide us today as all of this unfolds. 

I asked Him to help Bert, Amy and sweet Annora Grace to get well.

I asked Him to reduce the baby's fever. 
I asked Him to help me forgive the person who broke my trust. 

I asked Him to give me the strength to face today.

I don't know how it will all turn out yet, but I do know that 
He hears my prayers. 
I do know that in Christ ALL things are possible.

So today I am focusing on choosing JOY and GRATITUDE in the midst of fear. Words are powerful and remembering 
that I can get through anything with His strength, not my own,
gives me a sense of inner hope and peace.

Could I humbly ask a favor... could you please pray for my family? Thank you!

May you know His love and peace in all of the tough situations 
that come your way.

Sending you loves and hugs and prayers!

God Bless!
Love, Linda

Finding Comfort in Kindness...sharing from the heart

                                If every person made it a rule that                          wherever you are, whenever you              ...